Kenny Rogers By The Touring Numbers; Plus Artist Tributes

Kenny Rogers

Kenny Rogers performing in New Jersey, in 1982. (Photo by Luciano Viti/Getty Images)

Kenny Rogers, who passed away on Friday (March 20) at the age of 81, left a huge gaping hole in the hearts of many (see tributes below). And while he may have best been known as a cultural phenomenon who crossed over to the non-country mainstream to become a superstar with Grammy-winning  ballads and duets, TV and film acting credits and something of a sex symbol (“The Silver Fox”), he was also a tried and true road warrior.

According to Pollstar Boxoffice reports, Rogers had 1,294 plays and 390 reports between Feb 28, 1999 and Dec 10, 2017 and sold some 1.05 million tickets on his way to grossing a massive $47.6 million. His average gross, a healthy $125,911 per show, doesn’t begin to reveal some of his more recent peaks: The “All In For The Gambler: Kenny Rogers’ Farewell Concert Celebration”  at Nashville Bridgestone Arena on Oct. 25, 2017, for example grossed $1,317,867 and featured  a cavalcade of artists, including: Alison Krauss Chris Stapleton, Dolly Parton, Don Henley Elle King Idina Menzel, Jamey Johnson, Kris Kristofferson, Lady Antebellum, Lionel Richie, Little Big Town, Reba MacIntyre, The Flaming Lips and The Judds paying tribute. That show, promoted by Outback Concerts, sold a clean 15,530 seats.

He was also a star abroad, his Aug. 10, 2012 show at Horncastle Arena in Christchurch, New Zealand grossed $634K; while an Oct. 31, 2016 show at SSE Hydro in Glasgow grossed $577K before 11.3K fans; and a show at Newcastle, Australia’s Newcastle Entertainment Centre grossed $457,905. This in addition to playing three shows with the Nashville Symphony at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center on Jan. 15-17 2015 that grossed $358K.

Rogers had his share of festival plays, including: “1 Night. 1 Place. 1 Time: A Heroes & Friends Tribute To Randy Travis” on Feb. 8, 2017 at Bridgestone Arena; “Zac Brown’s Southern Ground Music & Food Festival” at both MUSC Health Stadium in Charleston, SC and Nashville’s Riverfront Park in Oct. 2013 and Sept. 2013, respectively; and he even played 2012’s Bonnaroo on a bill with Radiohead, Phish, Bon Iver, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Beach Boys and Skrillex.  That same year he also played Goldenvoice’s Stagecoach Festival.

The Gambler’s supporting acts weren’t so much a gamble and included some of his contemporaries in Glen Campbell, Don Williams, Oak Ridge Boys, Rita Coolidge, Anne Murray, B.J. Thomas and Don Williams; as well as artists younger than him such as Billy Dean, Amy Dalley, Linda Davis and Savannah Jack.

As for his set list, one could reliably depend on his hits including “We’ve Got Tonite,” (a Bob Seger song recorded with Sheena Easton), “Lady” (a song written by Lionel Richie), “Islands in the Stream” (a duet by the Bee Gees recorded with his close friend Dolly Parton); and his best known song, that earned him his nickname “The Gambler” (written by Don Schlitz). 

Dolly Parton, his longtime friend and singing partner, posted this heartfelt tribute which may best sum up what he meant to so many of us:

“Kenny was one of those special artist and we loved having him perform out at Stagecoach on the Palomino Stage, we considered him family.  It was an honor to work with him and I will always remember our time together.”
Wiley Dailey, Goldenvoice. Stagecoach, Palomino Stage

Kenny Rogers and Golden Voice's Wiley Dailey

Kenny Rogers and Wiley Dailey

Wiley Dailey
Stagecoach, Palomino Stage

Travis Tritt performed a cover of “Sweet Music Man,” a song Rogers wrote with Waylon Jennings, in tribute:

His longtime friend and artist, Lionel Richie, who wrote “Lady,” wrote the following:

Brad Paisley also played tribute to Rogers with “Sweet Music Man.”